Political strategies

The missing link between your business and brand strategies

youp 70% of employees do not know how to identify their company’s commercial strategy, according to to research cited in the Harvard Business Review. This research also revealed that these same employees lack an understanding of their company’s purpose, mission, and critical vision that inform and drive strategy.

Intriguing, but not surprising. Working with dozens of organizations, I’ve found that when there’s a big gap between leaders and others, something important is often missing: a clear and consistent brand strategy as part of the strategy. overall business of the company. In short, a brand plan.

What is a brand plan?

The very idea of ​​a brand is often mistakenly seen as a marketing tool rather than a strategic foundation. When properly developed and activated, your key brand elements can critically inform your business strategy. They map the competitive market and your position in it, and establish the unique purpose, personality, and points of difference that set you apart.

But oneAn effective brand is not just a series of platitudes and promises. It must be implemented throughout your organization, continuously and consistently. A brand plan is the actionable document that helps your employees do just that. More than anything, it makes your brand accessible—less abstract and scary, more tangible and easy to use.

How a brand plan improves the business strategy process.

The impact of developing a business strategy without such a plan is best seen in the results. Bain & Company estimates that more than 50% of strategic initiatives fail to achieve their goals. The causes of failure vary, but too often the initial strategic process ends up taking into account the business numbers, but not the human nuances.

This is where a brand plan comes in. It offers:

  • The opinion of the real experts: your customers.
    Like a recent article in the MIT Sloan Management Review noted, “Strategy is often crafted by elite teams and therefore may be limited by their biases about competitors, customer needs, and market forces.” A good branding plan avoids this by starting with Voice of the customer to research. Through methods such as one-on-one interviews, focus groups, and surveys, you can understand your customers and what motivates them, and avoid wasting time and money on misguided R&D and marketing.
    Voice of the Company research, conducted with employees, is also essential. It can reveal gaps between your strategic aspirations and operational realities, providing on-the-ground insights (and often better buy-in) from the people who need to execute your strategy later.
  • Clarity, via brand architecture.
    Growing businesses tend to accumulate brands, which can multiply confusion. Good brand architecture– the framework that describes how your company and product brands relate to each other – can remedy this confusion. It organizes your current offerings, so customers (and your own sales team) know which products or services best suit their needs.

    It will also clarify how new products or acquisitions should fit into your portfolio, helping to ensure consistent investment in growth.
  • Your special sauce.
    Once you’ve completed your research, you can see more specifically what makes you unique. This is the heart of your brand positioning: the space you occupy in the minds of the target audience compared to the competition. It’s the one essential thing you want everyone to associate with your brand – definitely not a place to be shy or vague.

    Sometimes what makes you special isn’t just your positioning, but also your purpose or your personality. A good brand plan clearly shows how they work together to make you, you.

  • Consistent and persuasive communication.
    Any business strategy is only effective if all the necessary audiences get it. Your brand plan should establish clear communication parameters, with examples of how key messages come to life in copy, and specific guidelines for color, typography, and graphics. (This is where a brand plan often fits into brand execution guidelines.)

    And to make sure it’s accessible to everyone who needs it, present your brand plan with plain language and plenty of visuals, and provided as a PDF or online reference that’s easy to share and update. .

What should a brand plan cover?

As stated earlier, your brand plan is an actionable document with a focus on action. Think of it as a guide to good strategy implementation, with everything you need in one place. Sometimes it’s rationalized. Other times you want the works. In any case, it should at least include:

  1. Research (client and employee)
  2. Mission/goal, vision and values
  3. Descriptions of the target audience (or buyer personas)
  4. Brand architecture
  5. Position statement
  6. Brand personality and voice
  7. Brand promise or value proposition
  8. Messaging strategy
  9. Brand guidelines including design and copy

Your business and your brand are inseparable. Your business strategy and branding plan should be too.

Written by Charlene Gervais.
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